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So I have a 2003 Beetle with a 1.9L diesel. Drove it to work fine (40 miles). There were no signs of trouble. Went to start it at the end of the day and it won't turn over. Dash lights up when I turn the key to the on position and the coil indicator light functions normally. When I turn to ignition the starter engages and it sounds like there is a lazy half turn of the engine before it cuts out. Seems like there isn't enough juice to get a good crank. I assume a dead battery of course. I try to jump it and it isn't helping. Fortunately I live and work right on a commuter rail line so I leave the car in the lot over night.

Next day I put the battery on a charger at my desk, let it go all day. I try again when I am leaving the office and the same thing happens.

The next day I have the local battery shop drive over with a new battery and still, it's the same thing.

The starter is clearly engaging but it seems like it doesn't have the power to turn it over. Maybe I'm wrong, but this doesn't seem like the way a bad starter would behave. Terminals are clean. Admittedly I have not checked the starter connections.

Anyone have any idea what this might be?
 

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When my starter was dying; it was progressively getting slower, turning over the engine and eventually, would hardly turn over, at all. That would be my first guess but there are other possibilities.

I bought a remanufactured Bosch starter and it has been excellent so far. Bosch is the oem for vw and i have always had good results with their starters.
 

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Remove the serpentine belt and try and start it. Spin each of the pulleys by hand. Once in a while one of the pulleys will seize and there just isn’t enough torque to turn the engine, especially if the starter is weak. If you still get the same thing the starter is the next thing to look at. Get a Bosch don’t go cheap reman from a box store or you’ll become a professional starter changer.
 
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